The bodies of 164 people from the Russian airplane that crashed in Egypt’s Sinai delivered home to St. Petersburg. The airplane tragedy happened on Saturday, when a Russian jet carrying 224 passengers crashed in the Sinai peninsula.
Russian news agencies reported that a first Il-76 Emergency Situations Ministry plane flew into St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Airport a little before 6 am local time, carrying 164 bodies all the way from Cairo.
Upon arrival, the first bodies were loaded onto stretchers and carried into a large white truck waiting on the runway at Pulkovo Airport, heading for a St. Petersburg morgue, where the bodies were to be identified and matched with DNA samples provided by the aggrieved families.
Russian President Vladimir Putin have announced Sunday to be a national mourning day, for the worst airline disaster in the Russian history. However, later, residents of St. Petersburg decided to extend the mourning period for two more days.
The crashed Airbus A321 plane, operated by Russian airline Kogalymavia, was carrying vacationers who traveled all the way to Sinai’s Sharm al Sheikh to enjoy the sun and sea. 17 of the dead passengers were children, and 3 were Ukrainian.
Families and heartbroken mourners piled flowers high in memory of their dead compatriots in St. Petersburg. Candles were arranged in Moscow to spell out 7K-9268, the number of the flight that crashed.
Cause of crash
Russian investigators argue that the plane may have broke up in mid-air, yet reiterated the fact that its still too early to draw conclusions from this. DAESH's affiliate in Egypt, Wilayet Sinai (Sinai Province), claimed that it took down the Russian airliner on Saturday, killing all on board.
However Egypt's Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said the likely cause of the crash of a Russian passenger jet that killed 224 people on Saturday was technical problems. Thus dismissing claims of DAESH responsibility, Ismail told a press conference on Saturday night.
Russia's Minister of Transport Maxim Sokolov has also denied the claims.
The militant group released a video showing an airplane being hit with a missile, and then descending in flames. Claiming that the video shows the Russian plane going down, they said the attack was in retaliation for Russia's intervention in Syria.
"The soldiers of the caliphate succeeded in bringing down a Russian plane in Sinai," the terrorist organisation said in a statement quoted on the Aamaq News Agency's website, the statement added that the attack was "in response to Russian air strikes that killed hundreds of Muslims on Syrian land."
Sokolov told the Russian Interfax news agency that DAESH’s claims can't be considered accurate because the terrorists probably don’t have missiles capable of downing a plane at 30,000 feet. "Based on our contacts with the Egyptian side, the information that the airplane was shot down must not be considered reliable," Sokolov said.